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NBA: Tonight's lottery gives teams hope

Associated PressLucky Lefty and Larry Legend are the latest characters looking for a big score in New Jersey.
Mike D’Antoni will try to make the Knicks fortunate before he can make them good, and the Seattle SuperSonics are sending Kevin Durant in hopes of landing the next, well, Kevin Durant.
They are all expected tonight at the draft lottery, the NBA’s shortcut to go from loser to winner.
Just like last year, two stud freshmen are the top prizes. The Miami Heat have the best chance to win the right to choose between Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose, but history says they won’t. Only twice, in 2003 and ’04, has the team with the best odds won under the current lottery format, which began in 1994.
That’s why the other 13 teams headed to Secaucus, N.J., will do what they can to boost their hopes. The hometown Nets, back in the lottery for the first time since 2001, are sending team investor Shawn Carter, better known as rap mogul Jay-Z, to take their seat on the stage.
“This is very exciting and I hope my nickname ‘Lucky Lefty’ holds up,” he said.
The Nets have just a 1 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. Jay-Z will be seated next to Indiana Pacers president and Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Durant and Miami’s Dwyane Wade are among the star players representing their fallen franchises.
The Knicks, with a lottery pick again after shipping top-10 choices to Chicago each of the last two years in the Eddy Curry trade, are sending new coach D’Antoni.
“I want Mike to come with me because he’s lucky they tell me,” new president Donnie Walsh said. “We need somebody with luck. I haven’t been lucky in that thing.”
The lottery determines the top three picks, with the rest of the first 14 spots made in inverse order of a team’s record. The Heat’s NBA-worst 15-67 finish gives them a 25 percent chance of choosing first and they can do no worse than fourth.
Seattle has a 20 percent chance of getting the top pick, with Minnesota and Memphis at 14 percent.
The odds meant nothing last year, when Memphis, Boston and Milwaukee, the teams with the three worst records, all fell out of the top three spots, the first time that had happened under the current format.
Portland moved up from sixth to get the No. 1 pick, which it used on Greg Oden, and Seattle vaulted to second and settled for Durant, who won the Rookie of the Year award. The favorite next season will be Beasley, a forward who averaged 26.5 points and an NCAA-best 12.5 rebounds for Kansas State, or Rose, the point guard who nearly carried Memphis to the national title.
The Celtics were one of the devastated teams last year, when they had the second-best chance of landing a top-two pick and instead tumbled all the way to fifth. Boston then packaged that pick in a trade with Seattle to acquire Ray Allen, and later pried Kevin Garnett from Minnesota in another deal.

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